Presenter: Kevin Schwausch

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Deer Breeder Rules - Deer Importation
November 5, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks adoption of proposed regulations that would reassert the current prohibition on the importation of white-tailed deer and mule deer into the state on the basis of continuing concerns about transmissible diseases.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter L, the Commission is authorized to regulate the possession of deer held in captivity under a deer breeder's permit and the procedures and requirements for the purchase, transfer, sale, or shipment of breeder deer. Current rules do not allow for the importation of white-tailed or mule deer into the state. The current rule was promulgated in 2005 in response to concerns over Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal disease detected in wild and farmed populations of cervids (the family Cervidae, which includes deer, moose, elk, and caribou) in 11 states and 2 Canadian provinces.

In March of 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published proposed rules in the Federal Register that would create a single federal regulatory standard to replace the various state regulations imposed in response to CWD. The proposed federal rules have not been finally promulgated, but USDA maintains that these rules will preempt state rules concerning CWD when they go into effect. Although the department's current rule was promulgated to address CWD, by prohibiting the importation of white-tailed and mule deer it has also served the dual purpose of preventing other externally introduced disease threats that move through, incubate in, or affect deer. Staff has been concerned about other epidemiological threats, particularly, bluetongue virus (BTV), Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF), Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD), and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (EHDV), which are viruses that affect deer or can be transmitted by deer to other wildlife or livestock. Therefore, staff recommends the continued closure of the state to the importation of white-tailed deer and mule deer in order to protect native wildlife resources from external disease threats.

Staff received permission at the August, 2009 meeting of the Regulations Committee to publish the proposed amendments in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed regulations (located at Exhibit A) appeared in the October 2, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 6836). A summary of public comment will be available at the time of the meeting.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of §65.611 and new §65.611, concerning Deer Breeder Permits, with changes as necessary to the proposed text (located at Exhibit A) as published in the October 2, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 6836)."

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Amendments